Sharpshooters in helicopters will again take aim at feral pigs in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it would temporarily close the refuge from Sept. 28 through Oct. 1 to allow for feral pig eradication efforts. The river will remain open through the refuge.
Topock Marsh, including Catfish Paradise, North and South Dikes, Pintail Sough, Five-mile Landing and Bermuda Field Observation Tower will be closed from Monday through Thursday for public safety. Areas within Topock Gorge may briefly have traffic routed to the western side of the river while aerial operations are in progress. Mesquite Bay may be closed intermittently while ground operations are under way. Service staff will be present during these short time periods to maintain a safety perimeter.
The operation is the seventh outing using sharpshooters to eradicate feral pigs. The Wildlife Service says feral pigs are known to pose a human health risk because of diseases they may carry.
The first two eradication efforts resulted in the deaths of nearly 140 feral pigs in 2017. Past efforts haven’t been completely effective at eradication because of the dense underbrush in which the hogs thrive, but officials say the operations have helped put a dent in the populations.
Feral swine have proven difficult to hunt on land due to their size, their ability to move through dense underbrush and their intelligence. According to the USDA, feral swine are intelligent enough to adapt to almost any environment. They reproduce quickly, with each female able to produce more than a dozen offspring per year — which only accelerates as the swine are placed under stress. Such swine, far removed from their domesticated cousins, have been found in almost 40 states. Their cumulative population is estimated to be more than 5 million, nationwide.